BOOK REVIEW: William Ritter “Jackaby”

91j4uVp7KELTitle: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

I’ve heard Jackaby described as Sherlock Holmes meets Supernatural, with maybe the tiniest bit of Doctor Who thrown in. So this book should have been our “SuperWhoLock” dreams come true, right?

It could have been.

But it wasn’t.

Jackaby started with a promising concept: young woman Abigail Rook is fresh off the boat in America and in desperate need of work to support herself. A college drop-out with a few failures under her belt, Rook is desperately trying to avoid her parents back in England in an attempt to live her own life without their overbearing-ness.

Now bring in our title character, Jackaby himself, a young man with the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes, the ability to sense the supernatural like the Winchesters, and the eccentricities of every incarnation of the Doctor. He’s in search of a deductive assistant, and happens to be the only employer around.

Abigail’s first day on the job finds them a strange, gruesome murder, presumably committed by a non-human entity; and that’s not even the weirdest thing about the day.

My thoughts:

See, this should have been right up my alley. Quirky characters with interesting abilities, monsters, murder? What more could I ask for?

How about to not be bored? Because my gosh, I was bored to tears. Jackaby is less than 300 pages long; it should have been a breeze. Yet every single page was a chore to read, and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

It’s a silly little book that I should have loved, but I didn’t. The plot was slow to progress, the character development was non-existent, and the story was forgettable. Sadly, there’s not much else to say about it. Such a disappointment.

BOOK REVIEW: Devri Walls “Magic Unleashed: Venators”

36192231Title: Magic Unleashed: Venators

Author: Devri Walls

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Six years ago, Grey Malteer was attacked by creatures he thought couldn’t possibly exist. They repeated a word, calling him a name he’d never heard before…Venator. Since then, his life has been a hellhole of secrecy—hiding old pain alongside strange new abilities.

Rune Jenkins has an itch, as she calls it, but it’s more than that. It’s an anger that builds up like the inside of a boiler whenever she’s around anything remotely supernatural. The pressure is growing steadily worse and she can’t understand why. All she knows is—her control is slipping.

By order of an unknown council Grey and Rune are pulled through a portal in the St. Louis arch, landing them in an alternate dimension where creatures of myth and legend exist. A realm that calls them, Venators.

Made up of centuries old fae, vampires, werewolves, elves and succubi the council’s corrupt nature becomes obvious as they seek to wield the newly returned Venators as weapons. Wedged in an impossible position, Grey and Rune must decide their fate—do they go against the council’s wishes and help the innocents of this unforgiving land, or face the possibility of execution by the council.

This book was given to me by Brown Books Publishing and author Devri Walls in exchange for an honest review; thank you!

Venators was such a fun ride, especially since I have very much been on a paranormal kick lately; I’ve been binge-watching The Vampire Diaries for the last two weeks. This book, however, weaves so many different kinds of folklore and creatures and mythological races, all coming together to make this awesome fantasy mash-up. We’ve got vampires, werewolves, wizards, faeries and even some creatures of Devri Walls‘ own creation.

Walls has done some serious world-building here in Venators and it’s definitely something to take note. While our main characters are originally from our world, they’re taken through a gate into another dimension filled with new and interesting creatures and places.

I enjoyed Grey’s character quite a bit: self-proclaimed loner who has dedicated his life to studying folklore after his run-in with goblins when he was 13. Now he’s sucked into this world that he could only dream of and it’s confirmed for him: that everything he’s been studying for the last 6 years was real.

I liked Rune’s character a bit less. She was stubborn and temperamental and sometimes bordered on annoying. I was also confused by the contradictions in her emotions: the new world they were in supposedly made her calmer because of her Venator nature, yet she still felt fear and panic and frustration, which are all emotions far from calm.

All in all, if you’re interested in paranormal or fantasy, featuring alternate dimensions and interesting world-building, definitely give The Venators Series a try!

 

Devri Walls: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: “Slasher Girls & Monster Boys”

9780147514080Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Author(s): Stefan Bachmann, Kendare Blake, Jay Kristoff, Jonathan Maberry, Carrie Ryan, Nova Ren Suma, April Genevieve Tucholke, Leigh Bardugo, A.G. Howard, Marie Lu, Danielle Paige, Megan Shepherd, McCormick Templeman, Cat Winters

Genre: Horror/Thriller

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a compilation of 14 stories by some of the most well-known young adult authors in the business. This particular collection is full of creepy, scary, bone-chilling, spine-tingling stories, some of which might keep you up late into the night, scared to check under your bed or inside your closet. Each one is inspired by either TV, movies or books, some horror and some not, and gives it a twist. You’re intended to read each story and attempt to guess what they’re reminiscent of, and then you can find out at the end.

1.) The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma

The very first story in this collection was a really good way to set the tone for the entries to follow. It was appropriately creepy and told in just the right way; a story about a perverted old neighbor who takes pictures of young girls and shoots birds in his backyard.

2.) In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan

This story was by far the scariest. It’s quite obvious from the very first pages that the other drew her inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, but it took a very, very dark turn. It was disturbing and twisted and terrifying, and I will be thinking about this short story for a long, long time.

3.) Emmeline by Cat Winters

While some of these stories are intended to scary and induce nightmares, this particular story was sad: a lonely ghost girl who seduces men and likes the cinema. This one wasn’t a favorite of mine, but at least it didn’t make me want to cry like the previous one. Short, sweet, and to the point.

4.) Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo

I was excited to read this one because it was written by the lovely Leigh Bardugo, a favorite YA author of mine. This one was creepy but much more subtle. It was written well, but it was a little underwhelming to me.

5.) Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd

This was a very enjoyable read for me. It was a unique and interesting concept and I feel like it could have possibly served well as a full-length story as well. The main character is murdered by her step-father in the beginning of the story, but she’s given a chance to live if she can win a game of hide-and-seek with death. The ending was very satisfying and justice was served in the end, a very uncommon trait for most horror stories.

6.) The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige

Unfortunately, this was one of my least favorites in this collection. It was kind of creepy, but it felt mostly silly. I wasn’t impressed by this story about the son of Hades.

7.) The Flicker, the Finger, the Beat, the Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke

Another one of my least favorites. It seemed sort of pointless and anti-climactic. It wasn’t scary, there were no explanations, and the characters were all very annoying and problematic. Bleh.

8.) Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry

This was definitely my favorite story in this book; I absolutely loved it. It was the only one of the stories that included humor, and it had zombies, which I also love. Quite honestly, I’m thinking about trying to contact Maberry and asking him to write an entire book- heck, an entire series about Dahlia and her zombie-killing awesomeness. So very enjoyable.

9.) Sleepless by Jay Kristoff

I’ve never read anything by Kristoff before, even though I’ve been seeing him all over Instagram. This wasn’t my favorite story, but it has made me want to read more of his work for sure. It was one of the more unpredictable works in this compilation and I was surprised by the outcome. It’s obvious the direction the story was going in based on the first few pages: boy meets girl online, they talk and develop a crush on each other, and one of them is probably a predator. Somehow, I got it all wrong though, and I really liked how it ended.

10.) M by Stefan Backmann

I was a little disappointed by this one. It wasn’t a bad story and it had a really interesting, lovely setting, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea, I suppose.

11.) The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu

Another beloved author contribution, Marie Lu. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from her so far, so I was expecting to love this. Unfortunately, it was also meh. I guess I’m not impressed with paranormal-type stories about vengeful spirits. It’s such a common trope in ghost stories and I didn’t think this one was good enough to stand out.

12.) A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman

This one could have been really good. It had a unique setting, but it was almost like it was a completely different world. While it was different, it’s hard to create a whole new world and catch your reader’s attention when your story is barely 20 pages long. It’s hard to understand what’s happening when the author has so little time to explain it. If this had been longer and had more content, it would have shown promise.

13.) Stitches by A.G. Howard

Stitches was a weird story. I’m still not completely sure what happened. I want to say I liked it, but I don’t even know that. I don’t have much else to say.

14.) On the I-5 by Kendare Blake

This one was interesting, and I thought it was a good story to end on. It was beautiful in an odd, creepy kind of way.

All in all, this collection of stories had a pretty even mix of good and bad for me. Half of them I liked, half of them I didn’t.

Many of them reminded me of the stories my grandpa used to tell me. For some reason, I was able to handle scary stories better as a young child than I can now, and he used to set me up on his lap and tell some of the best ones. It’s one of my favorite memories of him and reading this brought those memories to mind. Reading this took me back to that time, and I appreciate that.

BOOK REVIEW: Emily Lloyd-Jones “The Hearts We Sold”

34538054Title: The Hearts We Sold

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Dee Moreno lives a normal life, surrounded by normal people in a relatively normal world, except for one thing: the existence of demons.

Apparently, the demons have always existed and lived among humans, but in recent years, demons have come forward and revealed themselves to humanity.

Demons assure them that they don’t harm humans, but they are here to make deals and trades with them. They don’t barter with typical, material things however: they deal with wishes in exchange for body parts.

Dee doesn’t think she would ever want anything from a demon until her scholarship to the boarding school she attends is revoked. She can’t imagine going home to her two drunk parents and her previous, smothered life, so she seeks out a demon. However, this demon doesn’t want a finger or a toe; he wants her heart.

My thoughts:

I received this book in an OwlCrate box a few months ago and was very intrigued by the concept. I read some glowing reviews about it, some noting the sad nature of the ending. So I thought I was prepared for it. I really did. I went into this like, “Alright, I can handle this. I can keep myself together for this read and I’m ready for anything this book throws my way.”

I was not.

This book absolutely tore my heart out, pun intended. And not just the story and what happened, but the actual writing and the way it was written. Emily Lloyd-Jones does an amazing job of conveying emotion accurately and graphically in a way I’ve never seen. I was drawn in from the very first page and was entranced by the story and by Dee’s life.

The characters were very alive. I could imagine seeing any of them standing before me right now, having a conversation with each other. They were complex and breathing and interesting. Dee was broken, timid, and small in the beginning, but throughout the story learned to trust and love. James was a tortured artist, aimless and without a care in the world until he met Dee. Gremma, the roommate, was loyal, funny, unique and spirited. She was a really wonderful addition to the story, which I didn’t expect. I didn’t think she would add much but in the end, I’m glad she was there. The Daemon was mysterious, sometimes likable, sometimes creepy, sometimes scary. He was unpredictable and he kept the reading experience interesting.

The relationship between Dee and James was believable as opposed to many YA romances that seem forced and flat. I adored their interactions and the sweetness of their love.

I really enjoyed the demon aspect of the story. I’ve never seen “demons” portrayed like this in either literature or film, and I thought this was fresh and new. The air of mystery surrounding demons and the voids and the origins of both was a nice touch, keeping me intrigued throughout.

My only complaint was that any of the action scenes seemed very rushed and lacking… action. I don’t mind it too much because I tend to skim through action anyway. I don’t mean to, I just hate the suspense and the anxiety I get during fight scenes and stuff so it’s just easier for me.

It was almost as if Jones was compensating for the lack of a heart in our main character by causing the reader’s heart to bleed. I did so much feeling throughout this reading experience and I love that. I love when a book can make me feel and cry and laugh and gasp. This book was wonderful in that way.

Like I said, it also made me cry like a baby, but many might see this as a good thing. After all, this book caused me to feel and become invested. If I hadn’t cared, I wouldn’t have cried. So this made me care very, very much. Read at your own risk.

 

Emily Lloyd-Jones: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

SERIES WRAP-UP: Richelle Mead “Vampire Academy”

Spoilers for all Vampire Academy books in the following post. 

Title: Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead

Books: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal

My Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

vampire academy

Admittedly, I didn’t start this series in the best way possible, meaning I watched the movie first. Most who watched the movie would agree that it’s not the most well-made film in history. Still, it piqued my interest in the series, so I read the first book.

Unfortunately, because I watched the movie, I knew what was going to happen. It wasn’t as exciting as it might have been if I had just read the book, but this is entirely my fault. Either way, I wasn’t too terribly impressed with the reading experience, so I decided to give up on it, unwilling to commit to the next 5 books.

That is, until I was gifted a Kindle for Christmas last year. I’ve never really been a fan of e-books because I prefer to own the physical copies, so I wasn’t super excited about the gift, but I figured I could choose books to read on it that I didn’t care much about. This way, it wouldn’t matter to me that I didn’t own the actual book, so the books that came to mind were these.

I may not have been thrilled about the first Vampire Academy novel, but Frostbite got me hooked. Suddenly, I was interested in the characters, excited by the story and invested.

Rose Hathaway is a really wonderful character. She’s so obviously flawed: hasty and impulsive and a little careless; yet she’s also strong and loyal, and she always tries to do the right thing. Not only that, but Rose is funny and sassy and entertaining to read. She was a really great MC and I’m going to miss reading from her POV.

Her relationship with Dimitri was also really wonderful to read. Rose and Dimitri are my OTP, and even though I loved Adrian, I knew that he and Rose would never stay together. Rose was meant for Dimitri, and vice versa. Dimitri turning into a Strigoi was obviously heartbreaking, as was Rose’s journey to kill him. As was Dimitri turning back into a dhampir and rejecting Rose. The whole thing was a roller coaster, and I loved it.

I liked that Rose was able to check in on Lissa and see whatever she saw and read her thoughts. Not only was it an interested aspect of the story, Rose and Lissa’s bond, but it was also a really good way for readers to see what was going on wherever Lissa was while remaining in Rose’s POV. I found it really clever.

I liked Lissa, even though she seemed a little flat to me. She remained loyal to Rose throughout all her crazy ideas and plans. I also enjoyed her relationship with Christian, but mostly because I liked Christian. He was brooding and bitter and angry (*cough* just like me *cough*) but he loved Lissa, which was adorable.

My biggest complaint about the ending was where things left off with Adrian. He was one of my favorite characters and I was really disappointed to see things going south with him and Rose. Even though I didn’t want the two of them to date, I had always enjoyed their friendship and really hated the way they spoke to each other in the end. It seemed like everyone else got their happy ever after: Rose got Dimitri, Dimitri got Rose, Lissa became queen, etc. But Adrian was left with nothing and it was a real downer, honestly. I really hope that I see more of him when I read the Bloodlines series and that his story turns out okay. I want him to find happiness.

This bit of vampire lore was interesting and I really enjoyed the world of Moroi and dhampirs. I’m sad to see it come to an end, but excited to see what happens in the spin-off Bloodlines series.

 

Richelle Mead: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads